Planning a Book Series

Image result for book seriesWriting, above all, is a passion, but it if you want to make both a success and money, it is also a business, and if you are an indie author, you will need a book series or two to to create that all important marketing funnel.

Your first steps are to find a subject, story, character, and story world you want to bring to life – you may be living with these for some years.

I would suggest starting by developing both a hero and a villain character you want to place in a story world. Next you need to find an audience: no audience = no sales = no business – that means selecting a genre.

Next, do some research to find out what is popular in that genre. However, don’t try to second guess the market, because it is impossible – by the time you have completed three books in the series the market will have moved in a different direction, so you really do need to write about characters you love.

If you’ve created good protagonist and antagonist characters for a series, you will need an over arching story arc that can sustain the conflict between them for whole series (at least three books). However, you will also need individual story arcs for each book in the series which include character developments.

Make your protagonist too perfect and you will run out of character development in your first instalment, leaving you no where to go in subsequent books. It helps if you protagonist’s character flaws mean they make enemies and damage/hurt other characters along the way who can come back at them in later stories and create incidents which have consequences further down the overarching story arc.

You will also need supporting characters, some of whom might not make it to the next book, so you will need new characters to join later in the series to add interest.

You may well find that you have a few false starts, where you starts series, get one or two books in, before abandoning the series and trying again with another idea/character. Though, I would recommend, if you find a good protagonist/antagonist, to carry them across to a new setting/story and persevere with them (even with a different name). Also, if you find you have created a good side/supporting character in a series you abandon, try making them the central character in the next series.

By now you are probably thinking, “This sounds like a lot of work.” You are right, it is one hell of a lot of work.

There is an easier way, but it requires patience and discipline (I wish I had done this):

  • Put you plans for and epic series on hold.
  • Write yourself some novellas with different characters, different ideas, different settings, possibly different genres.
  • When you find something your readers like, which has the potential to be expanded into a longer series, turn all your attention to developing that into a series.

You will have the marketing benefit of a novella you can offer for free, to draw readers into your marketing funnel or present to a publisher. You will also have the gained plenty of practice in developing story arcs and developing characters, which will really help you develop your epic series.

Good luck,

Nick

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